I wish I had this account of Satan kneeling down in the Confessional of canonized stigmatist, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, when I was teaching the Confession Practicum for the good and holy deacons (all now priests) at the Pontifical Seminary Josephinum up in Columbus, Ohio. In the words of the great saint himself:
“One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was.
He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious!
I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints. But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness. He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation.
He kept this up even with with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man. The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face.
At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was.
With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.” [ h/t V ]
Had I had this account in the Confession Practicum, I would have used this as an example of a “penitent” who has zero penitence, and therefore cannot fruitfully take in the grace of the sacrament, and therefore is not to be provided with an absolution.
Of course, there are many priests who are not like Padre Pio, and who will, on perverse principle, absolve absolutely everyone no matter what, even if they are blaspheming and spitting on you in the confessional and screaming that they DO NOT WANT absolution. Yet, those priests will absolve them anyway, sending them ever more quickly on their way to hell, along with such priests themselves. It does no good, and truly hurts someone, even for eternity, to absolve them when they are not ready and/or do not want that absolution. It is to spit on Christ Jesus Himself.
As I read this account, I recall that perhaps, in fact, Satan has visited my own confessional, and not just once, but very many times. Not to worry! You see, it’s not a mind game. Cutting through the mind games of Satan is all about love, about reverence for Immaculte Mary’s Divine Son, Jesus. As Saint Pio found out with the added effect of a demonic stench, this way to cut through the mind games of Satan works every time, infallibly.
Such reverence is an expression of humble thanksgiving, friendship with our Lord, which is our Lord’s gift, not something we come up with ourselves. We can and should and must ask Him for this gift of His friendship, for the opportunity to be in humble thanksgiving before Him.
When going to Confession, remember the four “C”s. You will want to be:
In view of the account above, you’ll want to just accuse yourself in the simplest way of your sins, without making excuses that are irrelevant and unneccessary, and may be a real temptation not to be contrite. Yikes! It’s very refreshing just to confess, get absolution, and then rejoice in the Lord’s goodness and kindness. And He is just so good, just so kind.
I saw this view again while on my way to anoint one of the priests up the mountain before he had an operation. Meanwhile, all the rest of the priests were on retreat. Hermits do this kind of thing when need be! Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to go to Confession. Wonderful!
More recently, I went to Confession down the mountain. Priests are great for Confession anywhere of course. And you don’t need gorgeous views to go to Confession. You’ll love the view where that Confession will hopefully eventually bring you, that is, in heaven, face to Face with our Heavenly Father!